Report of Ad Hoc Committee on Coordinated Oversight of Service Delivery: deliberations

Ad Hoc Committee on Coordinated Oversight on Service Delivery

23 August 2010
Chairperson: Mr S Tsenoli (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The ad hoc Committee met to discuss and make recommendations on the draft Report on Coordinated Oversight of Service Delivery. At the outset, many Members noted that they had not had a chance to read the Report in depth, making it difficult for them to comment, and the Chairperson asked that they nonetheless give their preliminary observations, and then note their detailed comment ready for discussion and adoption of the Report in the following week. A Member suggested that perhaps the three sub committee should present their reports separately, but the Chairperson said that although those reports were important, they must nonetheless be slotted into the framework of the main Report. It was important that this Committee’s Report should produce something more substantial than in the past. The report of Parliament, prepared before this Committee was convened, would also be important to include. One Member thought that this Report did not address the public’s role in assisting in the running of the country whilst another said that it was also important that the issues raised at public hearings must be noted in a parallel report, and specifically responded to. The point was made that government had to some extent created these service delivery problems, by failing to align pipeline sizes for proper linkages from informal settlements to main pipes.

More than one Member thought that the structure of the Report was currently incorrect; there should be a foreword and table of contents, and perhaps also a narrative for the sections, and the Report must be put into a far more readable format. The mandate of the Committee should be included. The Committee should present clear and achievable recommendations, with a proposed implementation plan, as these were needed by the House Chairperson. Members also stressed that all figures included in the Report should be checked. The Chairperson asked that the Researchers prioritise the finalisation of the Report along the lines suggested, as the lifespan of this Committee would soon be ending.

Meeting report

Draft Committee Report on Oversight Delivery: Deliberations
The Chairperson tabled the draft Committee Report (the Report) on Oversight Delivery and asked Members to focus on any observations that might need still to be included. Members would also need to consider the recommendations and observations. The Report would be adopted at a future meeting.

Mr W Doman (DA) stated that he had received the Report late, so he could not make any comments. He queried whether it was beneficial for the discussion to continue if Members had not had the opportunity to study it. He also pointed out that another Member had suggested that the three sub-committees should study their reports separately before they came together as a group, to ensure that each of those reports was in order. He was not trying to be difficult but felt that it was not possible to hold a meaningful discussion.

Mr P Smith (IFP) questioned what should be in the Report. He asked to what extent these recommendations had been discussed on the ground.

A Member agreed with Mr Smith and Mr Doman. He did not have a problem with the three sub-committees reviewing their reports separately, but these should be consolidated into one Report to be presented to Parliament. The subject of service delivery would not end with the life span of the current ad hoc committee. He had read through, but had not studied the Report’s recommendations.

The Chairperson said that the Members should continue to discuss the Report.

A Member referred to the short term issues of various municipalities. The recommendations did not solve the problems of service delivery in the long term. He suggested that Members should consider what might replace this Committee at the end of its term, and should also reflect on the role of Parliament on oversight of service delivery.
Mr A Williams (ANC) stated that the Report did not address the South African people’s response to getting involved in the government of South Africa. People should assist in the running of the country directly, and he thought that this point should be emphasised.

Mr D Kganare (COPE) also noted that he had not had a chance to read the Report. However, what had come out of the discussions was that this Committee was very different from previous committees. It should be able to monitor whether recommendations had been implemented and to go back to the people and tell them how their problems had been resolved.

Mr S Makhubela (ANC) noted that all Members were now making general comments, since they had not read the Report. The recommendations should not focus on the quantity, but quality and substantive nature of interventions. It was clear, when the Committee spoke of municipal budgets being inadequate to cover the demands of the community, that these also did not take into account the serious backlogs that the municipalities had inherited, yet this backlog problem should be addressed, and the municipalities should not simply be acting as if everything was normal and it did not need to be taken into consideration. The Minister of Human Settlements had said that pipes in informal settlements were small in diameter, and could not be connected to the main pipes. This was apparent in the Alexander and Orange Farm settlements. 98% of the pipes were connected, but not to the mains, and billions of rands would be needed to address this issue. Government could deliver such services, but would face problems later on when the pipes burst. This issue was a challenge to which the Committee must direct its attention.

He also stressed the fact that some of the problems were created by the government itself. He drew the Committees’ attention to what he had seen in Thembisa, where five families were placed on one site, but no single family was in possession of the title deeds to that piece of land. He also raised the issue that one family would have access to the electricity for the various households and if that family was away, then none of the neighbouring families would have access to electricity until they returned. There was no systematic approach to solving the problems, and as fast as one was solved, another would be created. He also noted that people would apply for housing, would be given title deeds, but squatters without title deeds would then illegally occupy the same piece of land, disadvantaging the rightful owner. This was a recipe for disaster in the long run. The Deeds Registry would not know who owns what house. There seemed to be lack of leadership.

Mr R Bhoola (MF) pointed out that people who attended public hearings were sceptical of the Committee. Promises had been made by the Committee during the public hearings that the Members would address certain issues. He suggested that the Committee must prepare a parallel report to cover the issues that were raised at the public hearings, so that it did not simply end up the same as the other ad hoc committees. In addition, wherever the Report mentioned figures, the Committee must confirm them. For instance, he was not sure whether the figure of R300 billion for supplying water to Limpopo Province was correct.

Mr Smith queried the structure of the Report. He suggested that there should be room for two sets of recommendations. He gave an example of the visit to municipalities which did not have any particular recommendations. He stated that the Committee should have a form for dealing with the problems. He went on to state that the general recommendations were not very inspiring. He highlighted, for example, that the general recommendations on service delivery actually said nothing.

Mr J Maake (ANC) also raised an issue about the structure of the Report. He drew the Committees’ attention to the aim of the Committee, as stated in the Report, as follows: “.The terms of reference for the Committee included: conducting public hearings at Parliament and in all the nine provinces; conducting coordinated oversight visits in rural and urban areas; and tabling a report consisting of clear and achievable recommendations with a proposed implementation plan.” He stated that he had not seen this in the report.

Mr Makhubela stated that the mandate given to the Committee had asked that the Committee should come up with a solution to the South African problem. He stated that there should not be too much focus on what was currently happening. He suggested that the Committee should prescribe specific solutions, which must be clear.

The Chairperson stated that Mr Maake had provided the best response. However, he had left out an important phrase of the mandate, which was “for the improvement of the quality of services”. When putting together a Report, the framework should have been used to compile and populate that Report, with the evidence that the Committee had collected. Otherwise, the public would say that it had communicated issues, but were not given a response. He asked that the Report should be restructured, to answer the questions.

He also stated that the Committee Members should remember that the reason they had postponed taking action was that there was a turnaround strategy presented to the Committee. He agreed that the reports of each sub- committee were important, but only in so far as they fitted into the framework of the main Report. He stated that when the Committee Members read the Report, they should make notes of their recommendations and observations.

Mr Smith suggested that he would prefer something with a core narrative preceding what was being prescribed.

The Chairperson pointed out that the House Chairperson had high expectations from this Report. The Report prepared by Parliament, before the creation of this ad hoc Committee, was used as a background and that initial report should be incorporated into the new document.

Mr Maake suggested that there was a need for a foreword and a table of contents. He also suggested that the Report be restructured. The present way in which it was structured made it difficult to read.

The Chairperson said this was an appropriate observation. The target for finalisation of the Report should be a week hence, as the life span of the Committee was almost over. The processes were as important as the product.

Mr S Motau (DA) pointed out that Members had meetings scheduled for the rest of the week.

The Chairperson stated that the Research Team should prioritise the finalisation of the Report.

The meeting was adjourne


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